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Minnesota Wild Talk 03 Jan 2017
Saw the sad news on the front page today, and while I won't dwell on how the owners let you guys down, I did want to drop by here and say...
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Wild/Blue Jackets

Minnesota Wild Talk 02 Jan 2017
I would like to see the Wild win, obvs.  But honestly, I'm enjoying the fact that the Wild are one of two teams that are the talk of...
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Article: 5MM: New Year's Showdown

Minnesota Wild Talk 31 Dec 2016
Mike, Nick, and Doubles rapped about the Wild's big showdown with the Blue Jackets.Mike, Nick, and Doubles talked about how the Wild buil...
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Game Day: Isle-Wild

Minnesota Wild Talk 11 Jan 2017
Both the Wild and Islanders played on Tuesday.  Essentials:Wild 22-8-4 48 pts, 105 GF, 68 GA, Won 11, 2nd Central, 2nd West, 5th NHL...
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LeBrun: Five Day Bye Week

Minnesota Wild Talk 30 Dec 2016
More love, and by love, I mean mention, from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun   Interesting stuff here from LeBrun.     Wild has their...
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The Chopping Block

The NHL’s newest expansion team in Las Vegas has officially chosen the “Golden Knights” as their team name which means next is developing a roster of players from the 30 NHL teams currently in the league. Today, I am going to give my thoughts on which Wild players are safe and which ones are at risk of being put on the chopping block and up for grabs for the Golden Knights.
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The Rules

The rules of the draft state that the Wild can protect players in one of two ways. The first, and more likely in my opinion, is to protect 7 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 1 goalie. The other option allows them to protect 8 skaters (any combination of forwards and defensemen) and 1 goalie.

The Wild also, by rule, must expose the following: 1) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons. 2) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons, and 3) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club's protected list. For more information on the expansion draft rules, you can check out this link from NHL.com.

Who’s For Sure Safe?

Let’s start with what we know for sure based on the rules (this assuming the 7 forwards, 4 defensemen, and 1 goalie option). Due to no movement clauses in their contracts, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter, and Zach Parise are all protected from being lost to the expansion draft. It’s also pretty safe to assume that Devan Dubnyk will be the Wild’s goalie to protect. So that leaves just 4 more forwards and 2 defenseman for the team to protect, so here’s my guesses to who those players will be.

Who Do I Think is Safe?

I’ll start with forwards. If I’m the Wild, I’m for sure going to protect Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle. The two have been a key component to the Wild’s offense this season and have great chemistry with one another. Eric Staal is just a solid number one center that the Wild have been looking for and they’ll want to get the full value of the three year deal they signed him to. Charlie Coyle also seems to be developing in a really solid power forward as well and I think going forward, he will be Minnesota’s best forward.

It gets a little tricky with the last two forwards. My first pick to keep is Nino Niederreiter. It seems like Nino comes under fire every season for not scoring enough, but he always responds and one thing I’ve noticed is the impact he has on the players he plays with. Look at the Wild’s best two line combinations over the last half a year. Down the stretch last season it was Nino, Haula, and Pominville and this season it was Coyle, Staal, and who else but Nino. I don't think that's a coincidence. He makes the players around him better and is very versatile. I think that he is an extremely talented player with a lot of potential and the Wild need to lock him up and keep him in Minnesota.

The last forward I would protect is Mikael Granlund. I’ve been critical of #64 the last few seasons because he hasn’t lived up to his hype, but as of late he seems to be really finding his stride and producing offensively. He can play special teams and has found success on the wing this season. He also can play center, which like Niederreiter, allows for some versatility in his usage which only helps the team.

For the two remaining defenseman that the Wild can protect, I think one of them is very obvious and the other one is a three way tie. The obvious choice to protect in addition to Suter on defense is Jared Spurgeon. Though he’s small, Spurgeon plays with such high energy and composure. He’s great with the puck, has good vision and defensive awareness, and a shot that should be respected. I’ve said before that if Spurgeon were 4-5 inches taller and a little heavier, he could be one of the best defenseman in the league. The Wild love him and we love him and his role is clear and he should stay in the State of Hockey.

As for the final defenseman the Wild can protect… man I don’t know. You have to choose between Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and Matt Dumba. All three have their strengths and weaknesses, but if it were up to me, I think I would protect Matt Dumba. Though I do think on paper Brodin is better than Dumba, Dumba’s style of play is something the Wild needs on defense. Dumba loves to jump into the play and get involved with the offense. Sometimes that causes him to falter on defense, but that’s okay. You need a defenseman that can also be an offensive threat and that’s not Brodin or Scandella’s game. I think Dumba possesses a little more potential and the Wild just need him to get to the tipping point. I see him as a guy who could be a lot like PK Subban and I want to be sure when that happens, he’s in the red and green.

Who’s on the Chopping Block?

So that means the following players would be up to be selected by Vegas in the expansion draft: Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jason Zucker, Chris Stewart, Erik Haula, Darcy Kuemper, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, and potentially Tyler Groavac depending on how many games he plays.

I think the likely candidates based on the requirements for the Wild to be put up for the expansion draft are Marco Scandella, Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, and Darcy Kuemper.

Who’s Most Likely to Become a Golden Knight?

To me, this seems pretty obvious. Jason Zucker, the Nevada native will likely be the Wild player the Golden Knights select from Minnesota. Zucker is an electric forward with a lot of speed and goal scoring ability. Bringing in a hometown player (Zucker is the only notable NHLer from Nevada) to a new franchise is great for marketing and fan support. It would also be awesome to see Zucks play at home. As much as I love him, I think it makes the most sense.
So, what do you think? If the Minnesota Wild gave you the keys to protecting players, who would you keep safe? Who would you risk letting go? Which player do you think ends up in Vegas? Please let me know in the comments!

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15 Comments

Vegas taking Zucker would be a best-case scenario for the Wild.  I think the Wild will lose one of Scandella, Dumba, or Brodin, and that will be a big blow to their defensive corps.

    • Nordeastgy likes this

I've already made peace with the fact that Vegas will take Zucker. Just seems like a done deal to me.

    • Brett Marshall likes this

I have to agree with Doubs, although Zucker is an obvious choice, he is just simply not as valuable as 6, 24, or 25.

 

Too bad the culture (or was it our GM?), when signing guys, was to give them these non tradable contracts. I would love to have 28 or 9 available as well.

 

If they take Zucker, we all should breath, a heavy, heavy sigh of relief.

    • Doubles likes this
Brett Marshall
Nov 29 2016 12:17 PM
I do agree that 1 of the 3 defensemen make a lot of sense, but that's also highly dependent on what other defensemen are out there at the time. It's really tough to say right now
Brett Marshall
Nov 29 2016 12:22 PM
And I agree with Koivu and Pominville. I think they'd definitely be unprotected if it wasn't for their no movement clauses.

Guys values could fluctuate quite a bit between now and the expansion draft.  Zucker's stock, for example, is at an all-time low right now.  Whereas Brodin's is peaking, and continues to trend upwards.  But I don't think these stocks prices will matter in December like they will come April.  Will be interesting to see if there is much volatility here between now and the expansion draft.

    • Brett Marshall likes this
Brett Marshall
Nov 29 2016 04:50 PM
My thoughts exactly Doubles

 

Guys values could fluctuate quite a bit between now and the expansion draft.  Zucker's stock, for example, is at an all-time low right now.  Whereas Brodin's is peaking, and continues to trend upwards.  But I don't think these stocks prices will matter in December like they will come April.  Will be interesting to see if there is much volatility here between now and the expansion draft.

 

Zucker and Nino are playing very good right now. Why would Zucker's stock be at an all time low?

 

I agree that Brodin is having a bounce back year. This system is good for his game.

 

I would like to expose the Koivu, Pominville, and Parise contracts, but those no move clauses are like anchors.

    • Brett Marshall likes this

I get the love affair with Dumba, and yes defensemen develop at a slower rate, but I can't see the logic protecting Dumba instead of Brodin.Brodin's defensive ability is so much higher than Dumba's offensive ability right now.I think there's a much better chance that Brodin improves defensively than Dumba does defensively.

 

As for who Vegas takes, I think there's no doubt that without some behind the scenes deal, it'll be be a defenseman.If Brodin is left exposed, they're getting a #1 pairing D-man, if it's Dumba or Scandella, it's an easy #2.Zucker would be good for promotion, but it's an expansion team, the excitement should already be there.

 

Zucker and Nino are playing very good right now. Why would Zucker's stock be at an all time low?

 

Yes, Zucker has points in his last four games.  Yes, he's been picking it up a bit lately.  But prior to those last four games, he was scoreless and a complete non-factor in 9 consecutive.  It is from that point that makes me believe his stock is at an all-time low.  One or two games either way shouldn't change that, if we're thinking big picture.  

 

That 13 game stretch is pretty much Zucker in a nutshell.  Almost 25 years old and almost 200 games into his NHL career.  And, outside of a guy who has been a bit injury prone and shows the potential of occasionally being a streaky scorer, does anyone have any more of a bead on what / who Zucker is now than when he first broke in?  

    • Brett Marshall likes this

 

And, outside of a guy who has been a bit injury prone and shows the potential of occasionally being a streaky scorer, does anyone have any more of a bead on what / who Zucker is now than when he first broke in?  

 

Hard to say, but he's getting mintues with Koivu and Granlund this year, and his assists rate is way up, including his primary assists rate.When he scored 20, his shooting percentage was through the roof, so that's the outlier.I think that he's growing, and his game is broadening, but I still think he'll be one of those guys who becomes invisible for a stretch of games apart from a defensive mistake that will cost a goal.

    • Doubles and Brett Marshall like this

 

Yes, Zucker has points in his last four games.  Yes, he's been picking it up a bit lately.  But prior to those last four games, he was scoreless and a complete non-factor in 9 consecutive.  It is from that point that makes me believe his stock is at an all-time low.  One or two games either way shouldn't change that, if we're thinking big picture.  

 

That 13 game stretch is pretty much Zucker in a nutshell.  Almost 25 years old and almost 200 games into his NHL career.  And, outside of a guy who has been a bit injury prone and shows the potential of occasionally being a streaky scorer, does anyone have any more of a bead on what / who Zucker is now than when he first broke in?  

 

Most NHL players are streaky. Zucker's advanced stats were still good when he wasn't scoring, and that cannot be said of all Wild players.

 

There are many people here that have expressed their support for Zucker more than I have over the past two seasons, but he is playing pretty well both ways this year, so I would think he could put up the numbers to consider protecting.

 

At this point, it is too early to know how this will play out.

 

    • hlrule and Brett Marshall like this

An area that needs to be looked at also is cap hit. Wilderness Walk has a good piece on this.

    • Brett Marshall likes this
Brett Marshall
Dec 05 2016 11:59 PM

Lots of great conversation on this topic. Great discussion! Love hearing your guys' thoughts

Keep in mind, McPhee will be shopping on a budget.  Speculation on my part, but we may be able to narrow it down to 4 Wild players he would consider, along with their 2017-2018 cap hit:

 

Zucker $2MM

Brodin $4.50

Scandella $4.00

Dumba $2.75

 

Brodin-  I would hate to see Brodin go, I think he's off to a great start this season.  Then again, if he did, it would be interesting to see how the Wild would spend the cap relief.

 

Scandella-  I love Marco, but he's been pretty underwhelming so far, especially at his price.  Doubt McPhee would him, unless Marco's play picks up in a major way.  Even then...

 

Dumba-  Would only be under team control for one year.  Good Dumba is really good, Bad Dumba is pretty harrowing.  We've seen too much of both.  I'd sacrifice a bit of GD to stamp out BD.  Gotta give him a full season under Scott Stevens to be fair.

 

Zucker-  If McPhee takes him, that pick is as much, if not more, about marketing than anything else. 

 


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